GRI Opens Office in NYC and Will Contribute to Course in NYC

The new ‘Focal Point USA’ aims to boost the number of US companies that produce sustainability reports. Mike Wallace, Director, Focal Point US, is also confirmed speaker at GRI-certified course to be co-hosted by Net Impact Professional Chapters NJ and NYC in January 2011.The objective of opening a GRI hub in the US is to further promote and mainstream sustainability reporting in the US. GRI’s new ‘Focal Point USA’ aims to boost the number of US companies reporting on sustainability in a consistent manner, to improve the quality of those reports, and to increase US organizations’ input into developing new guidelines for sustainability reporting.  Sustainability reporting provides an invaluable source of information for investors, customers, employees, NGO’s and other stakeholders interesting in understanding a company’s ability to manage sustainability risk and compete in an increasingly resource- constrained world.

But how is GRI able to afford this new move? Each of the ‘Big Four’ accounting and professional services firms in the US – Deloitte, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG and PwC U.S. – has agreed to provide donations to sponsor GRI’s new Focal Point USA for the first two years. The Conference Board has agreed to host the GRI Focal Point USA on a pro-bono basis during that same period of time. The Conference Board has a Center for Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability and sees its relationship with GRI as an asset to the Center objective of helping make sustainability integral to core business strategies.

Other support and mainstreaming strategies adopted by GRI include launching of GRI-certified training courses through GRI-approved Training Partners around the world. I participated in this effort by developing the first GRI-certified training program in North America in 2008. Today, I am collaborating with the ISOS Groups, one of three GRI Training Partner for the US, to co-deliver high quality GRI-certified training courses in the US, including a course to be held from 27-28 January 2011 in NYC. The course, which will be co-hosted by Net Impact Professional Chapters NJ and NYC, features Mike Wallace, Director, Focal Point US, is one of its confirmed speakers. Additional information and registration details for the GRI-certified courses in NYC click here. Additional courses offered through ISOS can be found here.

What do you think about GRI opening a new hub in the US? Will this enable mainstreaming of sustainability reporting in the US or do you see major barriers to this effort? What are your thoughts about the way GRI is funding this new initiative through the “Big 4” accounting firms?